Britain is maintaining a state of readiness to potentially deploy an aircraft carrier to the Middle East amid hostilities in the Red Sea.

This comes amid a context of heightened maritime threats in the region, most notably from the Iranian-backed Houthi faction in Yemen.

In a recent parliamentary session, Tobias Ellwood, Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, inquired about the UK’s plans regarding the deployment of an aircraft carrier to the Middle East.

Responding to the query on 10th January 2024, James Heappey, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) and Minister for the Armed Forces, clarified the current stance of the UK regarding this matter.

He stated, “At present, an aircraft carrier is not tasked to the Middle East. However, the UK Carrier Strike Group remains ready to respond to the evolving global threat picture as required. The UK continues to meet its operational commitments at home and abroad.”

This statement comes against the backdrop of recent aggressive actions by the Houthi faction. HMS Diamond recently played a crucial role alongside US warships in repelling the largest attack by the Houthis in the Red Sea to date.

The unified action, involving HMS Diamond, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, and other US warships, successfully neutralised eighteen unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), two anti-ship cruise missiles, and one anti-ship ballistic missile.

British warship ‘fires guns and missiles’ downing Red Sea drones

While there is no current tasking for deployment to the Middle East, recent events emphasise the need for preparedness in responding to threats to international shipping and regional stability.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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David Lloyd
David Lloyd
2 months ago

Good to see that Diamond’s systems are working and that she has apparently shot down multiple threats simultaneusly. Now, where are the Sea Viper re-loads? Attempts at saturation attacks like this mean that a lot of missiles will have been expended.

Redshift
Redshift
2 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

I’m sure that you know full well that they cannot be reloaded at sea, so what exactly is your point?

Do you expect her to go back to port every time she fires 5 or 6 missiles ( we do not know how many she has fired , or even how many she is carrying?)

Tomartyr
Tomartyr
2 months ago
Reply to  Redshift

I assumed they meant sea viper purchases

Redshift
Redshift
2 months ago
Reply to  Tomartyr

If that is the case, it was odd wording, then I apologise, this site is so full of trite pointless, repetitive comments that I may have overreacted 😀

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Redshift

Good point, she also apparently used her guns as part of the engagement as well.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago
Reply to  Redshift

Time to fast forward the T45 CAMM upgrades and it might be worthwhile to try for more than 24 per ship!

Last edited 2 months ago by Quentin D63
Donaldson
Donaldson
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

deleting

Last edited 2 months ago by Donaldson
Steve
Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

It sounds like they are playing vague with the details on what was shot down by what. Wouldn’t be surprised if most where taken out by Canon or machine gun.

George
George
2 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

I’m not confident that any of our ships carry full loads of anything, be that crew members or missiles. Can we afford such an extravagance?

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
2 months ago

Interesting, but I don’t understand why a carrier is necessary to put in harms way here whilst we have bases in Oman and allies in Saudi Arabia whose air bases we can surely use

Paul Bestwick
Paul Bestwick
2 months ago

This whole situation is related to the Israel Gaza conflict and as such could well be a hot topic with the locals in the area of those airbases.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul Bestwick

Well indeed, that’s a good point. I still have a hard time believing that Saudi Arabia wouldn’t let us use their facilities, given they’ve been fighting the Houthis (badly) for yonks

Dokis
Dokis
2 months ago

Saudis are eagerly seeking to end that, indeed. They wouldn’t be supportive at risk of igniting the fight again

David Barry
David Barry
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul Bestwick

Disagree.

The whole situation is related to Global Power politics, with Russia draining attention from the Ukraine, China ramping up for invasion of Taiwan and Iran being a bunch of twunts; Israeli genocide in Gaza is not helping but when Gazans vote for death, Israel is only to happy to help things along.

WW3 in the offing and the RN are not fit to fight.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

It’s not what we think or perceive david. It’s what others think and perceive that matters. This falls into the realm of politics warfare and you have to remember it’s a domain in which the west is being roundly beaten. Iran and the Houthi ( mainly Iran) is been very busy selling this to the population of the region as a an action by a Arab Muslim power ( the Houthi) in support of the defence of Gaza against Israeli US aggression. The populations of the various nations that normally support the west have been completely sold on this..any Arab… Read more »

Dokis
Dokis
2 months ago

Are there actually escort vessels available?

Steve
Steve
2 months ago

The flip way of viewing it is we have them and why not use them. Properly test them out. There is nothing in the area that has the real potential to damage a carrier unless Iran gets involved which is highly unlikely

Last edited 2 months ago by Steve
Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago

Plus Akrotiri in Cyprus?

Meirion X
Meirion X
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

That would be a 2500 mile round trip. The target will have moved long apon arrival. The disadvantage of long range strike.
That is the advantage of Naval Aviation, to conduct short range strikes quickly.
Or we could deploy an Alban with a M270 on deck.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

True if we are just talking about dealing with the Houthis in Yemen but the article was also talking about the Middle East in general.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

The Typhoons took off from Akrotiri as I thought they would. Don’t think those ground targets moved before their arrival. Those Typhoons can fly pretty fast to cover 1,250 miles.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

we would also need to have agreement for overfly from Red Sea nations and I’m not sure we would get it…politics in the region is shifting against the west. Iran, china etc have been slowly winning the political warfare domain that I disputed with you before and 2023 was pretty seminal. most of the population of the region have been sold the idea that the Houthi are helping to defend Gaza against a U.S. Israeli assault against Gaza ( and so the Arabs). Any Arab state that helped facilitate a U.S./UK air strike on the Houthi would be seen by… Read more »

Meirion X
Meirion X
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

👍Certainly.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

What’s this about the US getting involved in assaulting Gaza? Israel has proved perfectly capble of reducing Gaza to rubble on her own.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

That’s the problem Graham, others dialogues don’t make sense to us. The Iranian dialog which is believed by many of the populations in the gulf and Levant are that the U.S. and Israel are the same enemy. That the US supports and enables Israel ( in-fact it’s a not uncommon view of the more extremist types that the the U.S. is controlled by a Jewish cabal). The Houthi are seen as fighting Israel, the U.S attacking the Houthi would be seen as the U.S. supporting Israel in fighting its conflict against the Arab world…this would be expected and re-enforces the… Read more »

Greg Smith
Greg Smith
2 months ago

It’s good practice bombing goat herders that can’t fight back, and makes the carrier look useful and value for money to the ‘great’ British public.

Enobob
Enobob
2 months ago
Reply to  Greg Smith

Er, those “goat Herders” are firing simultaneous one way attack drones, anti-ship cruise missiles and anti-ship ballistic missiles in co-ordinated attacks on distant targets. Less of the insulting colonial nonsense eh?

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Greg Smith

You are aware that these goat herders are actually pretty much the intact military of a sovereign nation who rebelled..they are armed with ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, etc etc…

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  Greg Smith

It would be fine if the Houthis restricted themselves to herding goats, but haven’t you heard they are raining death and destruction on those they don’t agree with including: buildings in Abu Dhabi, commercial shipping in the Red Sea, warships from US, UK and France.
[‘By the start of 2022, the war they initiated had caused an estimated 377,000 deaths and displaced four million people, according to the UN’].

Incidentally we used 4 Typhoons out of Akrotiri to hit Houthi targets, not a carrier.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago

I suspect there is no chance what so ever of any Arab nation allowing air strikes to be launched from their soil on the Houthi. The Houthi and Iran have been astute players of political warfare and projected these attacks as attacks against Israel in support of the war in Gaza.the Arab nations populations have taken that story hook line and sinker..any support by an Arab nation is likely to lead to civil unrest at best and some dead leaders and a new regime at the very worst…its a very very tense Geopolitical situation for all the players…you don’t want… Read more »

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

That’s how I see it too. We need to step up our game in calling out bs and even getting in front of it like we did in Ukraine. That means stark truth wherever possible. Probably too late for the Houthi battle, but that isn’t going to be the last erupting hot spot.

Richard Beedall
Richard Beedall
2 months ago

It would be highly disruptive to ship long casts to operationally deploy the CSG without months, even years, of prior planning and warning, but ultimately that’s what it’s for. Maybe it’s also the RN needs – news bulletins showing the CSG sailing off to potential combat operations will do more for recruitment and PR than another episode on BBC2 of Britain’s Biggest Warship with lengthy coverage of gash handling, drunken runs ashore, and Commander’s table.

Chris
Chris
2 months ago

Hopefully it would do more to secure the funding the RN actually needs to pull this off.

Ali
Ali
2 months ago

Shows exactly why carrier power projection is so relevant.
Airbases are not available.
We have mobile airbases that do the job.
Now what we need is emals and Hawkeyes and in the queue for the FA-XX.
Full cross deck capability with the French and US.
Plus the bonus of all the UCAV we can buy future proofingourpowerprojection for generations.
Time to properly re-establish the FAA.
And put Sea Ceptor & RAM on both the ships for boosted self defence.
Contrary to more than dodgy estimates,made without even asking for a quote from General Atomics or Newport News, it’s very affordable.

Frank
Frank
2 months ago
Reply to  Ali

Talk about Fantasy ! Mate…. none of this is ever going to happen, We will never have EMALS, Hawkeyes or FA-XX, Sea Ceptor or RAM on these Carriers.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
2 months ago
Reply to  Ali

Very affordable, what?
Your suggestion, including multiple new aircraft types, missiles and launchers, would probably cost more than just buying F35s and another two carriers. I’d much have 4 current QEs than, in 10 years’ time, two ripoff American carriers.

Terry
Terry
2 months ago
Reply to  Ali

I don’t know about Sea ceptor or RAM on both Ships. As it would be nice to have enough F35s. For just one ship. Without using USAF F35s. It is a total embarrassment as only having 31 F35s to are name. After a ship was up and running 5 years ago.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago

That is the whole point of the QEC program.
It is there ok to give options and flexibiliy to HMG, we can deploy if we need to.
That the CSG may not necessarily be required this time doesn’t detract from that.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
2 months ago

I thought the idea of the QE programme was for the UK to have aircraft carriers with aircraft on them deployable at any time needed. 😇

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Here we go, Geoffrey my friend!
It was.
They’re available.
And so are the aircraft, they fly out to the carrier as and when necessary, they don’t need to be lined up in its deck at all times!
Such is the flexibility of having the B.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
2 months ago

Just as well the U.S. don’t keep their carriers at home with aircraft available should they be needed. As we can’t crew our ships though it’s a bit academic to my mind.😉

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
2 months ago

M8 both have been back for maybe 3 weeks, to be honest unless it really kicks off I’d let them alone till they are ready to deploy. The RN is scraping the bottom of the barrel and you need to deploy another T45, 1 or 2 T23 and a Tide to go with them. I would be very nervous about sending a QE as they are one very large Target with virtually zilch self defence capability. Personally I’d send an SSN and see how they like some TLAM popping through a window or see if we can deploy our F35B… Read more »

Chris
Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

The benefit of the carrier is the distance to target and sortie regeneration rates. 10 F-35’s 250nm off shore can accomplish 40+ task’ed sorties in 24hrs. Buff’s in DG flying 2500+ miles can maybe do 1 each. Sustained aerial bombardment is where carriers shine.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Yes but unfortunately we have zero self defence on ours and as the Fort is knackered no way to support or replenish it.
As opposed to an SSN which takes out precise targets with zero risk. To be honest the idea of sending a QE through Suez right now is just plain scarey.

Meirion X
Meirion X
2 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

An Albion with M270 on the deck would be of less of risk, to conduct stand-off strikes with GMLRS or ATACMS?

Last edited 2 months ago by Meirion X
Peter S
Peter S
2 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Agreed- I have never understood why a navy chronically short of escorts thinks it’s a good idea to have carriers with effectively no defensive sensors or weapons. No other navy takes this risk: US carriers and assault ships, CDG, Trieste and Cavour, Kaga class- all have both sensors and self defence systems.
In their current state, the QEs would be very vulnerable to the kinds of weapons the Houthis can deploy.

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

Saying it has no defensive sensors is probably incredibly innacurate.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Morning mate. I agree, they’re not needed for this. Yes, our minor contributions are always for political purposes, but I’d rather we are there alongside the US rather than sitting at home like most of western Europe. A pitfall of being a P5 I guess? Agree, the Tories have left recruitment in a right state. I’d read of hull numbers being predicted to drop to 14 many years ago, simply based on the time they took with FSC, GCS, T26. We are indeed at the bottom of the curve. With 13 new on the way numbers will grow. They will… Read more »

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
2 months ago

M8 the whole damn thing is a mess, last night I read Farouk’s critique of MOD recruitment. My Smack was well and truly Gobbed.🤔 Quite simply one of the finest and most informative posts I’ve ever read and someone should read it out in Parliament. The programme of funded record is 19, 6 AAW Destroyers, 8ASW and 5 GP Frigates. The additional 5 T32 are programmed into the NSBS but are completely unfunded at present. However if we are also serious about increasing the SSN fleet to 10 then someone has to get a grip on recruitment and training. Because… Read more »

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
2 months ago

“Keeping our options open” or ” no chance at all”

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
2 months ago

Hmmm…perhaps best to to conceptualize this as CSG 25 possibly accelerated by from 12-18 months, due to real-world events. And, oh yeah, the opposing red team will be playing for keeps. Please don’t forget to collect the USMC F-35B squadron, security blanket, enroute.

Paul.P
Paul.P
2 months ago

A handful of Hawker Sea Furys on QEC would sort out these drones.

edwinr
edwinr
2 months ago

I would imagine the majority of the drones were shot down by conventional weapons. Missiles might have been an overkill for the drones. I reckon the sea viper was deployed for the anti ship missiles sent in their direction. I would be surprised if we let off more than two or three missiles – after all aren’t they meant to be a one shot, one kill option? Regarding the carrier – I can see the need to send one if things don’t settle down very quickly. The carrier gives us lots of options and a big say at the table… Read more »

Richard Beedall
Richard Beedall
2 months ago

If the CSG is deployed, a major problem will be the non-availability of RFA Fort Victoria to re-arm and re-supply Queen Elizabeth with solids. Vic is the only ship left in the RFA that can do this – but she’s currently laid up awaiting a refit prior to re-activation for CSG25. I’m not sure to what extent, if any, QE can instead RAS with USN combat support ships. Anyone know?

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
2 months ago

Don’t quote me but I believe all NATO RAS are interchangeable, the problem will be food, spares and beer. The F35B use the same munitions as the USMC at present so that shouldn’t be an issue. My concern would be crew Fatigue as both Carriers and their crews were deployed till just before Xmas. But to be honest if we are serious about hitting the Houthi then I’m at a loss to think of real alternatives. I believe HMS Lancaster has 8 Harpoons and I suppose we could either Task a SSN with TLAM or operate our F35B off a… Read more »

Chris
Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

This is going to require laser guided bombs. It’s going to be QE, PoW or Camp Lemmonier. I can see Djibouti protesting however. The carriers might be the only option.

George
George
2 months ago

If we were to deploy a carrier to that region, the big if.
Do we have sufficient manned and functioning vessels to properly defend Her, while also escorting commercial shipping.
Then again, do we have sufficient functioning F35Bs plus available trained pilots, to make deploying Big Lizzie worthwhile.

Chris
Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  George

In a push, yeah. You would join up the existing T23 and T45 surface action group, transforming into a carrier battle group (CVBG). RFA would have to make a heavy, sustained appearance as you will actually be expending munitions and fuel by the tons per hour. This would be the first real British carrier battle group since 1982.

It should be noted diamond is going to have to rearm soon. Nearest port to do that???

Last edited 2 months ago by Chris
ABCRodney
ABCRodney
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris

HMS Jufair in Bahrain is the nearest RN base but that does involve a 4000 mile roun£ trip and transiting the Straights of Hormuz. So gulp time if you are low on munitions.
However there is UKJLSB at Al Duqm in Oman which is leased for 35 years and has already docked QE in 2021 and overhauled a T23 2 years ago. It even has 2 massive Drydocks which can accommodate even a USN CV. It’s about 1000nm away but it all depends on how Oman feels about us bombing up.🤔

Last edited 2 months ago by ABCRodney
Jonny
Jonny
2 months ago

I’m not saying we shouldn’t send her in but I didn’t think our destroyers were capable of intercepting ballistic missiles (yet)? If only the American destroyer can intercept them is it wise sending a big juicy target? I know the the ones the houthis will be using won’t be particularly good but it must be a concern?

Chris
Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonny

Aster 30 can intercept short range ballistic missiles, which is what we see here.

Greg Smith
Greg Smith
2 months ago

Why do we only bomb folk that can’t fight back????
£100m stealth jets to kill more shepherds and bomb more weddings. Sign me up……….

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
2 months ago
Reply to  Greg Smith

You think Houthis, with their access to BALLISTIC anti ship missiles, sophisticated drones and anti air systems can’t fight back? They’re a battle hardened and well armed bunch, having been at war with Saudi for a long time

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Greg Smith

They are not shepherds. These are jihadi militants desperate to die for Allah. We are actually simply giving them what they pray for. Keep attacking commercial shipping and trying to provoke a response and sooner or later they will get a response.

Meirion X
Meirion X
2 months ago
Reply to  Greg Smith

Stick to your ‘stop the war/cnd’ echo chamber meetings!

grizzler
grizzler
2 months ago
Reply to  Greg Smith

No- ones stopping you ….

Stc
Stc
2 months ago

Regarding recruitment, they are proposing to cut 2 ships because they cannot recruit one crew. It’s nonsense it’s just another way of cutting the military. The political elite have it in for the military they see it as a way of achieving their globalist no borders Utopia. The next thing they will say oh has we have no landing ships what’s the point in funding the marines after all they can only carry out undefended landings as they do not have the necessary equipment and support to do that ! You military posters, Labour and Tory voters have been warned… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
2 months ago

Sky News reporting UK full cabinet meeting tonight….to discuss action against Houthis?

Last edited 2 months ago by Paul.P
Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago

It looks like the Labour leadership and speaker of the commons have been briefed in the cabinet office this evening so we are likely to see some form of UK involved in a strike on the Houthi. One must assume this would be from an SSN as I don’t see other practical options.

Paul.P
Paul.P
2 months ago

The situation in the Arabian sea off Yemen is there for a while. Its a pity neither the UK nor the US have the use of a substantial airbase in Djibouti. The French seem unwilling to really commit to Prosperity Guardian. Macron has too many internal troubles. So a carrier presence will be needed longterm. We should offer to share the job with the US and get a QEC group ready to replace USS Eisenhower. It will probably be necessary to ask for help with escorts from allies but in my view that would only add to the legitimacy of… Read more »

Andy
Andy
2 months ago

Why hasn’t prince Charles aircraft ever been deployed she’s fixed now ain’t she.

James
James
2 months ago

There is a.very weak deterrent this is what you get when spending is minimised so the Tories can give teir mates more tax cuts.